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How Yoga Can Benefit Runners

We’ve all heard the same song and dance about yoga being good for your mind and body. We have a general idea on the effects it can have on stress and flexibility, but few understand how or why, especially those who cross-train or participate in another physical activity.

But while yoga is beneficial for anyone and everyone, here are some particular pros for you runners, some of which may turn you over to the yoga side once and for all.

Breathing Gains
Just like a yogi, almost every runner understands the importance of breathing. It’s never fun to be on a run and experience shallow breathing and a tense body. Yoga is the very practice that can harness the breath control needed to quickly relax the body in times of stress or low oxygen. Different breathing techniques (pranayama) are used to keep the body calm in stressful postures. By focusing on belly breathing during runs, (seeing the abdomen expand with each inhale rather than the chest), runners can get more oxygen deep into the lungs, allowing them to build endurance and increase lung capacity. Like all muscles in the body, lungs need to be exercised as well, and yoga can be the perfect tool.

Injury Prevention
Besides learning how to breathe like a boss, yoga can help runners increase their flexibility, thereby helping to prevent injuries. Even with stretching before and after a run, there is a certain amount of muscle tightness that sets in afterwards. It becomes an issue when that tightness impacts your range of motion, especially if one side of your body is tighter and you begin to favor one side more. This can create repeated pressure on certain muscles and joints leading to injury and a less efficient run. By adding a consistent yoga practice to your routine, runners can gain greater flexibility in their joints, especially in the hips and lower legs. As a bonus, your muscles will feel less sore after a run for not being so tight.

Increased Focus
Yoga often gets associated with meditation, but it’s not all chanting and hummus. Meditation is a large component of yoga and works to help people control their thoughts, especially the negative ones. Many of us can allow our egos to get the best of us, especially in regards to a sport or competitive activity. Meditation helps us to turn down the negative self-talk and turn up the pep-talks. It begins in yoga in the asana, when we learn to stop comparing ourselves to others and simply focus on our own bodies, breathe, and the present moment. This translates off the mat when runners beat themselves up emotionally for having an “off day". Yoga allows you to channel that inner focus to be able to control your thoughts enough to not let them be a mental block.

So now that you know how yoga can benefit runners, come take a class with us here at Joy Yoga Center. You won't regret it!

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